New year message: Thank you for supporting our hospital this year

Kate Slemeck is chief executive of the Royal Free Hospital. 

Kate Slemeck is chief executive of the Royal Free Hospital. - Credit: Royal Free

What a year it has been for everyone - not a year we want to repeat I am sure you will agree. 

Our patients, staff and members of our local community have all faced hardships and challenges during the past nine months, and we know this will continue into 2021. 

As I write this just before Christmas I am sad to have to report we are seeing a significant increase in Covid cases coming in to our hospital, this very much reflects the rising rates in the community which has led to London going in to tier 4. This is a stark reminder to us all that we are far from out of the woods with this pernicious virus and we all need to look after each other and remain safe by vigilantly observing infection control rules and to staying at home where possible.

I must take this opportunity to thank our fantastic staff who work so hard every day to care for our patients – and to thank the local community for all your support over the last year which has been second to none. While for many of us it means we won’t be enjoying the Christmas we may have planned, I do believe hope is around the corner.  

Josephine hopes she'll be able to hug her family after her second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: Royal Free

Josephine hopes she'll be able to hug her family after her second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: Royal Free - Credit: Archant

At the Royal Free Hospital we were one of the first sites in London to commence delivery of the vaccine. We know this is history in the making as we embark upon what will be the most significant vaccination programme in the NHS's and our lifetime, and it was a hugely emotional moment to see Josephine, our first patient receiving her vaccine. Josephine is now looking forward, in the near future after her second dose, to be able to hug her grandchildren again – a wonderful seasonal gift.

There have, of course, been other opportunities for celebration this year – the fantastic response of our staff to Covid in the spring and over the summer – showing their complete dedication and support to keep patients safe forever immortalised in the BBC series Hospital: Fighting Covid-19. Also a real highlight for me as well was having the opportunity to thank a number of our staff who have worked for 25 and 40 years for the Royal Free Hospital - a mark of real loyalty and commitment both to the NHS and the hospital.  

But finally, I want to say an enormous thank you to the Royal Free Charity and to those members of our local community who have supported us throughout this difficult year. As we enter this new phase of the pandemic, I know our staff will continue to find it a real source of comfort and inspiration that so many people have given their time, their money and their assistance so generously.  

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I want to end by wishing you all a peaceful Christmas time and most importantly a happier and more fulfilling 2021.

  • Kate Slemeck is chief executive of the Royal Free Hospital.

READ MORE: New year message: 'Faith, hope and love for 2021'

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